KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT: Issues and practical options for the DAC Network on Development Evaluation. Item 4: i

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1 DACNETWORKON DEVELOPMENT EVALUATION KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT: Issues and practical options for the DAC Network on Development Evaluation Item 4: i This study is submitted by the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands. It was prepared by Rutger Engelhard, Consultant. This room document contains an Executive Summary in English and in French as well as the full report. It is being presented for CONSIDERATION at the meeting of the DAC Network on Development Evaluation on January, st meeting January 2004

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3 TABLE OF CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY... 5 COMTE RENDU SUCCINT... 9 INTRODUCTION TEN LESSONS LEARNED IN KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT THE OUTCOME OF AN E-CONSULTATION Knowledge management activities Evaluation learning problems and knowledge management approaches Feedback on the DAC Evaluation Reports Inventory KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT: ISSUES AND PRACTICAL OPTIONS DAC Evaluation Report Inventory: analyzing the collective action problem Knowledge management: centralized versus decentralized models CONCLUSIONS REFERENCES APPENDIX 1: PURPOSE, PARTICIPANTS AND RESULTS OF THE E-CONSULTATION... 33

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5 Knowledge Management: Issues and practical options for the DAC Network on Development Evaluation EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This paper has been prepared to inform the discussions of the OECD/DAC Network on Development Evaluation (DAC Network) on practical options for enhancing its knowledge management policies and practices. In particular, the DAC Network wishes to examine the available options for exchanging information, experiences and cooperation on evaluation among the members of the Network and with their development evaluation partners; and increasing the use of the DAC Evaluation Reports Inventory (DAC Inventory), its principal Internet-based communication tool for disseminating the lessons learned from the evaluations to a range of diverse audiences. Lessons learned in knowledge management Regrettably, there is no universal definition of knowledge management, just as there is no agreement to what exactly constitutes knowledge. Although knowledge management means different things to different people, broadly speaking, it can be regarded as a process through which people generate value from their organization s intellectual and information-based assets. Generating value from these assets always involves sharing knowledge through prescribed procedures among people within their own organization (or in other organizations). Knowledge management is not a miracle concept, and in the process of applying it many lessons have been learned. Probably the most important of these lessons is that knowledge management is not a technology-based concept. Nevertheless, today s discussions on knowledge management often focus exclusively on introducing or improving ICT applications. While ICT applications (such as document databases) often facilitate knowledge management, these tools should not be the starting point for developing a knowledge management policy. Such a policy must be based on decisions as to why (organizational goals); what (knowledge), who (people), how (procedures) and how much (budgets). Other lessons learned are that it is always difficult to identify what knowledge is to be shared, where that knowledge resides, and how it should be disseminated to potential users; many people are apprehensive about sharing their knowledge and are reluctant to make the additional effort to enter their knowledge into a system or to use that system seek out knowledge from others; most organizations already make their knowledge available through their websites. Mapping these dispersed knowledge resources and helping potential users to find the information they need appears to be more helpful and certainly much less costly than building centralized databases; 5

6 access is important, but successful knowledge management also requires care, attention and hard work to identify, collect and categorize relevant new knowledge assets. Effort is also needed to encourage people to contribute to those assets, to develop and maintain the infrastructure, to promote knowledge services and monitor their use; the knowledge networks of organizations will not be well managed unless an individual (or group of people) has clear responsibility for doing the job; knowledge management initiatives require commitment of people and their organizations, preferably formalized in the form of a simple agreement or contract; sharing knowledge may be a commendable idea, but without an underlying, widely accepted and well supported reason for doing so, it is likely to become a pointless, expensive exercise; getting people on board is essential for any knowledge management project; and knowledge management is a political undertaking, especially if it deals with evaluation lessons that are usually associated with success, failure and funding decisions. If no politics appear around a knowledge management initiative, it is probably a good indication that nothing valuable is taking place. Outcome of an e-consultation In the preparation of this paper an e-consultation was conducted with 32 members of the DAC Network to gather their suggestions regarding concrete evaluation learning problems that should be jointly taken up; key elements of a knowledge management strategy that the DAC Network could adopt to address these evaluation learning problems; and features of the DAC Evaluation Reports Inventory (DAC Inventory) that could be refined or added. Evaluation learning problems and key elements of a knowledge management strategy On the basis of the results of the e-consultation, it appears that the majority of respondents would like the DAC Network urgently to address two evaluation learning problems. These are: improving the quality of individual evaluations and increasing the oppor-tunities for comparing and synthesizing lessons learned in evaluation studies; and increasing awareness of the positive and/or negative results of international development cooperation. To address these evaluation learning problems, the respondents recommended that the DAC Network enhance current and start up new knowledge management programmes for harmonizing and standardizing evaluation methodologies; and making better use of lessons learned and other evaluation feedback. 6

7 For each of these broad knowledge management activities the respondents collectively suggested detailed programme approaches, including their beneficiaries, concrete results to be achieved within one or two years, pressing problems to be overcome and various knowledge management programmes (for details see pages 16 to 18 of the report and appendix 1). The DAC Evaluation Reports Inventory In 1986 CIDA set up the DAC Evaluation Reports Inventory database and has managed it ever since. At the request of the DAC Network, CIDA overhauled the DAC Inventory in The respondents gave a mixed assessment of the DAC Inventory. Some respondents were very positive; in particular, they commended CIDA strongly for its continued support in making the DAC Inventory more useful; assessed the general idea of the DAC Inventory as good, sound and logical; considered the database to be easily accessible to all, reliable and user-friendly and liked its search functionality; and paid tribute to the fact that the contents have been kept manageable and can be extended in an incremental manner. The same respondents frankly observed that the DAC Inventory faced, in the words of one of them, a typical collective action problem, because many, if not most DAC Network members do not make sufficient effort to submit contributions in a timely manner, if they do so at all. For that reason, they argued, the DAC Inventory is patchy in coverage and its contents incomplete and not up to date; does not include the full texts of evaluation reports and contains poor-quality information; and has been overtaken by search engines such as Google, and the websites of DAC Network member organizations where most evaluation reports (abstracts and full texts) are being published. The respondents offered many suggestions for increasing the value of the DAC Inventory. By far the largest number of suggestions referred to the need to resolve the collective action problem of the DAC Network. In fact, their recommendations are directed at the DAC Network member organizations rather than to CIDA, which manages the Inventory. The three main solutions were: to make the DAC Inventory more up to date and comprehensive; to add hyperlinks to full text documents; and to increase the quality and the scope of information. Knowledge management: issues and practical options The overall response rate to the e-consultations was 52%, indicating that the DAC Network members show great interest in enhancing knowledge management among the Network members and their organizations. How the DAC Network members wish to use Internet-based communication and networking tools to support the implementation of new knowledge management initiatives is less evident. The reason for this inconclusiveness is that the Network s principal Internet-based knowledge sharing tool, the DAC Inventory of Evaluation Reports, is based on a centralized knowledge management model, whereas the DAC Network members have yet to commit themselves to pool their organizations intellectual and information-based evaluation assets under one centralized knowledge management structure. Instead, over 7

8 recent years all member organizations have created separate sections on their own websites to present the work carried out by their evaluation departments. Some of these sections are small, and consist of just a list of links to evaluation reports carried out over the last few years. Others are comprehensive web resources and include, in addition to archives of full evaluation reports, evaluation planning schedules, lessons learned, guides, and links to other relevant sites. In enhancing its knowledge management, the DAC Network first needs to address a more fundamental question than how to improve or expand the functionalities of the DAC Inventory. The DAC Network members need to consider whether they wish to continue to share lessons learned and other evaluation feedback on the basis of a centralized knowledge management model, and to address the underlying causes of their apparent collective action problem with respect to the DAC Inventory, or to opt for a more decentralized alternative. A decentralized knowledge management model would consist of simply mapping the depositories of evaluation knowledge available within each of the member organizations and providing directions to those who are looking for specific information. This model would better fit the current reality in which the evaluation knowledge of member organizations is dispersed over many websites, databases, libraries and filing cabinets. In this knowledge management model, the DAC Network will have to allow the knowledge market do its work and accept that some member organizations will put more effort and funds into publishing (in print and online) and marketing their reports, lessons learned and other evaluation feedback than others. Both knowledge management models will be facilitated by technology. A simple web portal with a variety of spider, syndication and search functionalities, (thematic) alert services, a Q&A facility, etc., would be sufficient to make such this decentralized model work. If the DAC Network opts for the centralized management option, it could develop the DAC Inventory into an evaluation knowledge and learning centre, and apply its centralized knowledge management structure to generate added value from the intellectual and information-based assets of the member organizations. It seems that only after an agreement has been reached on the fundamental issue of whether to adopt a centralized or decentralized knowledge management model, can the Network members begin working out the various programmes for improving knowledge management in the DAC Network summarized in this report. 8

9 GESTION DU SAVOIR ET DES CONNAISSANCES Enjeux et solutions pour le Réseau CAD sur l évaluation du développement COMTE RENDU SUCCINT Cet exposé a été préparé afin d informer les parties dans les discussions du Réseau OCDE/CAD sur l évaluation du développement (Réseau CAD) sur les options pratiques destinées à améliorer la politique et la pratique de sa gestion du savoir et des connaissances. Plus précisément, le Réseau CAD souhaite examiner les options disponibles concernant : l échange d informations, d expériences et la coopération dans l évaluation parmi les membres du Réseau ainsi qu avec leurs partenaires participant à l évaluation du développement. l intensification de l utilisation de l inventaire des Rapports d évaluation du CAD du CAD, qui constitue son moyen de communication en ligne prédominant pour transmettre à une palette variée de lecteurs les enseignements issus des évaluations menées. Des enseignements tirés de la Gestion du savoir et des connaissances Il n existe malheureusement pas de définition universelle de la Gestion du savoir et des connaissances, de la même façon qu il n existe pas de définition commune concernant les composants exacts qui constitue la connaissance. Si la signification de la gestion du savoir et des connaissances peut varier d une personne à l autre, on peut généralement la considérer comme un processus par lequel les gens créent une richesse à partir des informations et données dont les organisations auxquelles ils appartiennent sont propriétaires. Produire de la valeur à partir de ce genre d'actifs implique l'application de procédures spécifiques régulant le partage et la communication des connaissances entre les membres d'une organisation (ou avec d'autres organisations). La gestion du savoir et des connaissances n est pas une solution miracle, et beaucoup de leçons ont été tirées de son application. La plus importante de ces leçons est certainement le fait que la gestion du savoir et des connaissances n est pas un concept basé sur la technologie. Cependant, les discussions actuelles sur la gestion du savoir et des connaissances se concentrent exclusivement sur l introduction ou l amélioration des applications des technologies de l information. Alors que les applications des technologies de l information (telles que les bases de données documentaires) facilitent souvent la gestion du savoir et des connaissances, ces outils ne devraient pas constituer la base d une politique de gestion du savoir et des connaissances. Ces politiques doivent être basées sur des décisions ayant trait au pourquoi (les objectifs organisationnels), à quoi (les connaissances), à qui (les gens), au comment (les procédures) et au combien (le budget). Nous pouvons également citer les enseignements suivants : il est toujours difficile d identifier les connaissances à partager, l endroit ou se trouvent ces connaissances et la manière de les communiquer aux utilisateurs potentiels. 9

10 beaucoup de gens sont réticents à l idée de partager leurs connaissances et de produire l effort supplémentaire de consigner leurs connaissances dans un système ou d utiliser ce système pour effectuer des recherches dans les connais-sances d autres personnes. la plupart des organisations ont déjà rendu leurs connaissances accessibles depuis leur site Web. Il apparaît plus utile et certainement moins coûteux de baliser ces sources dispersées de connaissances et d aider les utilisateurs potentiels à trouver les informations qu il recherchent plutôt que de créer des systèmes de bases de données centralisées. l accès aux données est important, cependant la gestion efficace du savoir et des connaissances implique également du soin, de l attention et beaucoup de travail afin d identifier, collecter et catégoriser les nouvelles connaissances, encourager les gens à y contribuer, développer et maintenir l infrastructure, promouvoir les services liés à la gestion du savoir et des connaissances et contrôler l utilisation de ces services. les réseaux de connaissances des organisations ne peuvent être bien gérés que quand un individu ou un groupe de personnes en est clairement responsable. les initiatives de la gestion du savoir et des connaissances exigent un engagement total de la part des personnes et de leur organisations, de préférence formalisé sous la forme d un simple contrat. le partage des connaissances est une idée louable, mais sans une raison de fond généralement acceptée et bien soutenue, il risque de devenir une pratique coûteuse et sans intérêt. il est essentiel de réunir les soutiens nécessaires des gens pour tout projet de gestion du savoir et des connaissances. la gestion du savoir et des connaissances est une affaire d influence, lorsqu elle concerne l évaluation d enseignements tirés de succès, échecs et décisions budgétaire. Si une initiative de gestion du savoir et des connaissances n est pas teintées de recherche d influence, cela signifie probablement que rien d important n est en train de se produire. Résultats d un sondage en ligne Lors de la rédaction de ce document, un sondage en ligne a été effectué sur un panel de 32 membres du Réseau CAD afin de réunir leurs suggestions concernant les sujets suivants: les problèmes à traiter en groupe concernant l analyse des évaluations. les éléments clé d une stratégie de la gestion du savoir et des connaissances que le Réseau CAD pourraient adopter afin de remédier aux problèmes d analyse des évaluations. les fonctions l inventaire des Rapports d évaluation du CAD qui pourraient être adaptées ou ajoutées. 10

11 Les problèmes d analyse des évaluations ainsi que les éléments clé d une stratégie de la gestion du savoir et des connaissances Les résultats du sondage indiquent que deux solutions doivent être mises en place concernant les problèmes identifiés par une majorité des personnes sondées pour lesquels une action urgente du Réseau CAD est souhaitée: améliorer la qualité des évaluations individuelles et augmenter les possibilités de comparaison et synthèse des leçons apprises lors des études d évaluation. augmenter la prise de conscience des résultats positifs et/ou négatifs de la coopération du développement international. Pour traiter ces problèmes d analyse des évaluations, les personnes sondées recommandent d améliorer les programmes actuels de la gestion du savoir et des connaissances ainsi que de démarrer des programmes pour l harmonisation et la standardisation des méthodologies d évaluation faire un meilleur usage des enseignements tirés et des autres informations collectées. Pour chacune de ces activités globales de gestion du savoir et des connaissances, les personnes sondées ont suggéré collectivement des approches de programmes détaillées, mentionnant leurs bénéficiaires, les résultats concrets à obtenir d ici un ou deux ans, les problèmes les plus urgents à surmonter et différents programmes de gestion du savoir et des connaissances (pour de plus amples informations, veuillez consulter les pages 16 à 18 dans le rapport et l appendice 1). L Inventaire des rapports d évaluation CAD L ACDI gere la base de données d inventaire des rapports d évaluation du CAD depuis A la demande du Réseau CAD, l ACDI a procédé une révision complète l inventaire CAD en Le bilan des réponses des personnes sondées sur l inventaire CAD est mitigé. Certaines personnes sondées ont répondu : félicitations à l adresse de l ACDI pour leur effort constant d accroître l utilité de l inventaire CAD. l idée générale de l inventaire CAD est considérée bonne, logique et solide. la base de données se révèle facile d accès, simple d utilisation, fiable et inclut une fonction de recherche très appréciée. une gestion efficace du contenu a été maintenue peut être étendue étape par étape. Ces mêmes personnes sondées ont également observé avec franchise que l inventaire CAD souffrait, pour citer l une d entre elles, d un `problème typique d action collective, car beaucoup, si ce n est la plupart des membres du Réseau CAD ne font pas l effort d envoyer leurs contributions dans les délais impartis, si tant est qu ils les envoient. C est pourquoi elles pensent que l inventaire CAD: manque d unité et ne contient pas toutes les informations et n est pas à jour. 11

12 ne contient pas l intégralité des rapports d évaluation et contient des informations de qualité médiocre. peut être remplacé par les moteurs de recherche tels que Google, et les sites Web des organisations membres du Réseau CAD, où sont publiés la plupart des rapports d évaluations (résumés et textes complets). Les personnes sondées ont proposé beaucoup de suggestions pour améliorer l Inventaire CAD. L écrasante majorité des suggestions d amélioration de l Inventaire CAD font référence à la résolution du problème d action collective du Réseau CAD. En fait, leurs solutions suggérées sont dirigées aux organisations membres du Réseau CAD, plutôt qu à l ACDI, qui gère l inventaire. Les trois solutions principales sont : actualiser l Inventaire CAD et rendre son contenu plus complet, ajouter des liens vers les versions intégrales des textes augmenter la qualité et la portée des informations présentées. La Gestion du savoir et des connaissances : enjeux et solutions Le taux de réponse au sondage de 52% indique que les membres du Réseau CAD ont montré un grand intérêt dans l amélioration de la gestion du savoir et des connaissances parmi les membres du réseau et leurs organisations. La façon dont les membres du Réseau CAD souhaitent utiliser la communication en ligne et les outils de collaboration pour l implémentation de nouvelles initiatives pour la gestion du savoir et des connaissances est par contre moins évidente. La raison de cette ambivalence est que le moyen de communication en ligne prédominant du Réseau, l Inventaire CAD des rapports d évaluation est basé sur un modèle centralisé de gestion du savoir et des connaissances, tandis que les membres du Réseau CAD doivent encore s engager à mettre les informations et données dans un système centrale de gestion du savoir et des connaissances. A la place, toutes les organisations membres ont créé durant les dernières années, des sections spécifiques sur leurs sites Web personnels afin de présenter le travail fait par leurs départements d évaluation. Certaines de ces sections sont réduites et ne contiennent qu une liste de liens vers les rapports d évaluation produits durant les dernières années. D autres constituent des ressources Internet complètes et contiennent non seulement les archives des rapports complets d évaluation, mais également des planifications des évaluations, des leçons apprises, des guides et des liens vers d autres sites pertinents. Pour améliorer la gestion du savoir et des connaissances, le Réseau CAD doit d abord solutionner un problème plus fondamental que la simple amélioration de l inventaire CAD ou l implémentation de nouvelles fonctionnalités. Les membres du Réseau CAD doivent choisir entre retenir les leçons du passé et les autres commentaires d évaluation concernant un modèle centralisé de gestion du savoir et des connaissances et traiter les raisons profondes de leur problème évident d action collective en ce qui concerne l Inventaire CAD, ou d opter pour une solution plus décentralisée. Un modèle décentralisé de gestion du savoir et des connaissances pourrait être constitué d un simple balisage des dépôts de connaissances d évaluation disponibles chez chaque organisation membre et de fournir les indications nécessaires pour ceux qui cherchent des informations spécifiques. Ce modèle s adapterait mieux à la façon dont les connaissances d évaluation des organisations membres sont réparties sur plusieurs sites Web, bases de données, bibliothèques et archives. Dans cette optique le Réseau CAD va devoir accepter qu une situation de laisser faire s installe dans laquelle certaines organisations membres s investiront d avantage que d autres dans la quantité d efforts fournis et budgets consacrés à la publication 12

13 (sur papier et en ligne) et à la promotion de leurs rapports, enseignements et autres commentaires d évaluation. Ces deux modèles de gestion du savoir et des connaissances peuvent être implémentés par des moyens techniques. Un simple site portail incluant diverses technologies de recherche, réutilisation de contenu, des services (thématique) d alerte, une Foire Aux Questions etc., pourrait suffire pour faire fonctionner le modèle décentralisé. Si le Réseau CAD opte pour le modèle centralisé, il pourrait faire évoluer l Inventaire CAD vers un centre de connaissances d évaluation et d apprentissage et utiliser sa structure centralisée de gestion du savoir et des connaissances afin de générer une valeur ajoutée à partir des informations et données des organisations membres. Il semble qu il soit nécessaire de parvenir à un accord sur le problème fondamental de l adoption d un modèle centralisé ou décentralisé de gestion du savoir et des connaissances, pour que les membres du Réseau puissent commencer à mieux définir les différents programmes d amélioration de gestion du savoir et des connaissances parmi le Réseau CAD abordés dans ce rapport. 13

14 INTRODUCTION This paper has been prepared to inform the discussions of the OECD/DAC Network on Development Evaluation (DAC Network) on practical options for enhancing its knowledge management policies and practices. In particular, the DAC Network wishes to examine the available options for exchanging information, experiences and cooperation on evaluation among the members of the Network and with their development evaluation partners; and increasing the use of the DAC Evaluation Reports Inventory (DAC Inventory), its principal Internet-based communication tool for disseminating the lessons learned from the evaluations to a range of diverse audiences. This planned discussion on enhancing knowledge management is not a stand-alone event and is taking place within the framework for Evaluation Feedback for Effective Learning and Accountability. This framework, developed by the DAC Network at a workshop in September 2000, 1 emphasizes that getting evaluation lessons across to a range of diverse audiences requires a sophisticated and concerted approach; and Internet-based communication tools are an important addition to the evaluation toolbox, although they need to be used intelligently and should not replace conventional approaches. This paper has been prepared by Contactivity bv (Leiden, the Netherlands) under an assignment of the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As part of this assignment, Contactivity conducted an e-consultation with the members of the DAC Network to gather their suggestions regarding concrete evaluation learning problems that should jointly be taken up; key elements of a knowledge management strategy that the DAC Network could adopt to address these evaluation learning problems; and features of the DAC Evaluation Reports Inventory that could be refined or added ( customer feedback ). The paper is structured as follows: section 2 provides a brief overview of the potential benefits and common challenges of knowledge management, including ten lessons learned in this field that the DAC Network may wish to take into account when improving the Network s knowledge management practices; 1 Workshop on Evaluation Feedback for Effective Learning and Accountability, Tokyo, September 2000, OECD/DAC. 14

15 section 3 presents a summary of the responses to the e-consultation, including customer feedback with respect to the DAC Inventory; and section 4 highlights a number of issues that the DAC Network needs to address, and proposes and discusses some practical options for enhancing knowledge management within the Network. The author would like to thank the 34 members of the DAC Network who participated in the e- consultation for sharing their insights and volunteering their suggestions. The level of participation in the e-consultation (52%) was very high, certainly when taking into account that a number of respondents participated explicitly on behalf of one or more colleagues. The author hopes that they will recognize themselves in this report and that they will find its contents helpful in structuring their discussions on enhancing the knowledge management policies and practices of the DAC Network. 15

16 TEN LESSONS LEARNED IN KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT Regrettably, there is no universal definition of knowledge management, just as there is no agreement to what exactly constitutes knowledge. Although knowledge management means different things to different people, broadly speaking, it can be regarded as a process through which people generate value from their organization s intellectual and information-based assets. Generating value from these assets always involves sharing knowledge through prescribed procedures among people within their own organization (or in other organizations). Better knowledge sharing is never an end in itself, and knowledge management seems to be pointless unless it is focused on supporting the goals of an organization, such as enhancing its outreach, and improving the quality and profitability of its products and services. Knowledge management is a recent addition to the toolbox of the organizational development consulting industry. It is not a miracle concept, and in the process of applying it in large corporate companies many lessons have been learned. The DAC Network is not a private sector organization but a professional network of evaluation departments of bilateral and multilateral donor organizations. Nevertheless, awareness of the lessons learned in the private sector may help in the formulation of policies to enhance the DAC Network s knowledge management. The following paragraphs summarize ten of these lessons learned. 1. Technology should not dictate knowledge management Knowledge management is not a technology-based concept. Nevertheless, today s discussions on how to enhance knowledge management often focus exclusively on introducing or improving ICT applications. While ICT applications (such as document databases) can often facilitate knowledge management, these tools should not be the starting point for developing a knowledge management policy. Such policies should be based on decisions as to why (organizational goals); what (knowledge), who (people), how (procedures) and how much (budgets). 2. Knowing what knowledge is relevant to users It is always difficult to identify what knowledge is relevant to be shared, where that knowledge resides, and how to disseminate it to potential users. This challenge is further complicated by the fact that knowledge exists in a variety of forms: explicit (e.g. represented in evaluation reports), embedded (e.g. in the form of evaluation methodologies), and tacit (undocumented knowledge captured by the evaluators in the course of their research). The majority of today s knowledge management initiatives are narrowly focused and revolve around identifying, classifying and indexing explicit knowledge in a document management system or database. For evaluation learning, however, embedded and tacit knowledge are often of much greater interest. 3. Sharing knowledge is an unnatural activity During the implementation of knowledge management projects, it is found over and over again that many people are apprehensive about sharing their knowledge, and are reluctant to make the additional effort to enter their knowledge into a system or to use that system seek out knowledge from others. Both 16

17 policy makers and ICT experts tend to overlook the fact that for these reasons people have to be highly motivated to participate in knowledge management projects. 4. Mapping knowledge yields better access than centralized databases. Most organizations already make much of their knowledge available through their websites in the form of articles, reports, manuals or interactive information services. As a result, the web has developed into an immense, but chaotic depository of knowledge. Bringing these dispersed knowledge resources together in one place and creating hierarchical knowledge management models seem to be a logical step towards generating added value from these information-based assets. However, such big, centralized information architectures are complex, often understood only by their creators, and content maintenance is time-consuming and costly. As a result, centralized database projects involving many organizations (or departments within an organization) are rarely fully implemented and their content is almost always out of date. Alternatively, mapping dispersed knowledge resources and helping potential users to find the information they need on web can be much more helpful and is certainly much less costly. In fact, mapping knowledge is most likely to yield better access to and use of knowledge. 5. Access is only the beginning Access is important, but successful knowledge management also requires care, attention and hard work to identify, collect and categorize relevant new knowledge assets. Effort is also needed to encourage people to contribute to those assets, to develop and maintain the (technological) infrastructure, to promote knowledge services and monitor their use. Management of content and promotion of information services are essential elements for the success of a knowledge management project. 6. Knowledge management requires knowledge managers Within an organization or network of organizations knowledge will not be well managed unless an individual (or group of people) has clear responsibility for doing the job. The tasks of such knowledge managers do not differ much from those of the secretariat of a conventional professional network. 7. Knowledge management initiatives need a knowledge contract Knowledge management initiatives require the commitment of large numbers of people and their organizations (or departments). Formalizing this commitment in the form of simple agreement has frequently proven to be highly effective. Such a knowledge contract can include summaries of the various tasks to be carried out, the individuals to whom those tasks have been allocated, and milestones in the implementation process. Since knowledge management initiatives are often protracted projects, the contents of such agreements can serve as a point of reference in later stages of the implementation process. 8. Knowledge management needs a purpose Knowledge management policies can not be divorced from organizations (or a network of organizations) and their goals. While sharing knowledge (in the form of reports, methodologies or best practices) may be a commendable idea, there must be an underlying, widely accepted and well supported reason for doing so. Without such an overarching purpose, agreed to by all parties involved, knowledge management is likely to become a pointless, expensive exercise. 17

18 9. Knowledge management requires attention to people and cultural issues The implementation of a concerted knowledge management project, decided upon by the management team of an organization (or the steering committee of a professional network of organizations), will always require changes in the procedures and work processes of various departments (or of individual member organizations). The introduction of new technologies that facilitate knowledge management will always lead to new tasks, activities and procedures, and will make some old ones redundant. In many cases staff will be asked to hand over their knowledge, experience and good practices the very intellectual assets that make them valuable as professionals. The cultural aspects of such organizational changes and their potential impacts on people down the line are often ignored. Getting people on board is essential for the success of any knowledge management project. 10. Knowledge management is political Knowledge is power, and knowledge management is therefore a political undertaking, especially if it deals with evaluation lessons that are usually associated with success, failure and funding decisions. Professionals tend to decry politics and argue that they only get in the way. But astute knowledge managers acknowledge and cultivate the politics of knowledge management, and lobby for and broker deals between those who have knowledge and those who wish to use it. At the highest level, they will try to shape the governance of knowledge to ensure its better utilization across the organization (or a professional network such as the DAC Network for that matter). If no politics appear around a knowledge management initiative, it is probably a good indication that nothing valuable is taking place. Many more lessons have undoubtedly been learned in recent years. However, these ten lessons can already be of help in assessing knowledge management initiatives and identifying aspects that may require extra attention. They can also serve as a checklist when developing knowledge management policies and designing activities to implement them. 18

19 THE OUTCOME OF AN E-CONSULTATION In November 2003, the members of the DAC Network on Development Evaluation were invited to participate in an e-consultation with three rounds of questionnaires. The purpose of this e-consultation was to gather their collective suggestions regarding concrete evaluation learning problems that need to be jointly addressed; key elements of a knowledge management strategy that the DAC Network could adopt to address these evaluation learning problems; and features of the DAC Evaluation Reports Inventory that could be refined or added ( customer feedback ). The questions put to the DAC Network members in this e-consultation focused on identifying and prioritizing concrete knowledge management activities (ongoing and new) to be included in an enhanced knowledge management policy of the DAC Network; determining the principal group(s) of beneficiaries of each of these activities; articulating concrete results to be achieved for each of the prioritized activities; identifying pressing problems that need to be addressed by the DAC Network as a whole; and listing the types of support expected from the DAC Network secretariat. In addition, the second round of the e-consultation was intended to gather customer feedback on the DAC Inventory, the DAC Network s principal knowledge management activity. An initial invitation to participate in this e-consultation was sent to 65 members of the DAC Network, of whom 34 responded to one or more of the e-questionnaires, representing an impressive response rate of 52%. A description of the setup and a detailed report on the responses can be found in appendix 1. Knowledge management activities The DAC Network members identified seven types of activity that could be part of the Network s knowledge management policy. These are: 1. sharing and disseminating lessons learned and other feedback from evaluations; 2. sharing knowledge on evaluation methodologies; 3. undertaking joint evaluations and meta-reviews; 19

20 4. improving network processes and creating a marketplace for exchanging ideas; 5. exchanging evaluation planning information; 6. building evaluation capacities; and 7. maintaining and using the DAC Inventory. When asked to prioritize these activities from the perspective of enhancing the DAC Network s effective learning through evaluation feedback, the large majority of respondents selected the first two activities in the above list: (1) sharing and disseminating lessons learned and other feedback from evaluations, and (2) sharing knowledge on evaluation methodologies. Collectively, the respondents provided comprehensive descriptions of these two knowledge management activities, including their objectives, beneficiaries, concrete results to be achieved, problems to be overcome, Network activities to be enhanced or started, and the support required from the DAC Network secretariat (details can be found in appendix 1). Based on their responses, the evaluation learning problems to be addressed and knowledge management approaches to be adopted can be articulated as follows. Evaluation learning problems and knowledge management approaches On the basis of the results of the e-consultation, two evaluation learning problems that the DAC Network members as a group would like to address could be identified. These are: improving the quality of individual evaluations and increasing the opportunities for comparing and synthesizing lessons learned in evaluation studies by harmonization and standardization of evaluation methodologies; and increasing awareness of the positive and/or negative results of international development cooperation by making better use of lessons learned and other evaluation feedback. The respondents suggested the following knowledge management approaches for each of these evaluation learning problems. Harmonization and standardization of evaluation methodologies For this evaluation learning problem, the key learning question, the beneficiaries, concrete results, pressing problems and the knowledge management programmes suggested by the respondents can be summarized as follows: Key learning question How to improve the quality of evaluations through harmonizing and standardizing evaluation methodologies used by the DAC Network members and their consultants? Key beneficiaries DAC Network members and their consultants. 20

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